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Hullabaloo


Sunday, March 23, 2014

 
L.A. Times writes entire article on the U.S. becoming the next Saudi Arabia. No mention of climate change

by David Atkins

Hooray! The U.S. is well on its way to becoming the oil and gas exporter of the world!

Five years ago, the idea of exporting U.S. gas and oil was not only unheard of, but, in the case of most U.S. crude oil, illegal. At that time, the United States was facing a future of dwindling domestic supplies and vulnerability to foreign producers. It was anxiously building facilities to import natural gas, worried about ever-higher prices and building much of its foreign policy on the need to secure energy supplies. 
But U.S. energy production has boomed with the technological revolution of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and the ability to tap newly accessible massive reserves. The nation surpassed Russia in 2009 as the largest producer of natural gas and is expected to zip past Saudi Arabia next year to become the largest oil producer in the world. 
Now, the U.S. energy industry is pushing for a new era of exports. 
The new liquefied natural gas plant under construction by Cheniere Energy Inc. along a waterway known as Sabine Pass in Louisiana is the first large-scale export facility approved in the country, expected to begin operation next year. Twenty-one other proposed plants are awaiting federal approval, 17 of which would line the Gulf Coast, with four others on the Atlantic and Pacific shores.

Although energy companies are legally free to export natural gas, they must go through a lengthy review process for building the multibillion-dollar terminals that are required to turn it into a liquid so it can be transported on ships. Crude oil, meanwhile, is largely subject to an export ban enacted in the 1970s-era energy crisis, when long lines at gas stations and soaring prices led to political pressure to save domestic resources for American consumers.
The oil and gas industry is pushing the Obama administration and Congress to legalize crude exports and speed up the process of licensing gas export terminals. Industry officials argue that the U.S. is now in a position of economic strength and national security that will be further enhanced by energy exports. Foreign markets for U.S. crude and natural gas will spur additional production, create thousands of new jobs, enable the U.S. to counter hostile foreign energy powers and generate billions of dollars in wealth, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Already, the U.S. is exporting 3 million barrels of gasoline per day.
So, if we're exporting oil why is gas still over $4 a gallon? Oh right--because oil is sold on a world market, and it doesn't really make a hill of beans worth of difference where it's produced.

On a broader level, though, given what we know about climate change and CO2, there's something nearly nihilistic about writing an article in which the U.S. is set to frack and drill its way to becoming one of the world's lead oil and gas producers, without mentioning the fact that the planet will become uninhabitable by humans if all of that gas and oil is extracted and burned.

But as Robert Cruickshank pointed out to me on Twitter when I highlighted the article, it shouldn't be too surprising. The author of the piece is Ralph Vartebedian, the same guy who took over the California high-speed rail beat to mercilessly sandbag the project. Vartebedian pretty clearly has a pro-oil industry agenda at the L.A. Times and can't be counted on for unbiased journalism on energy-related issues.


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